Monday, July 20, 2009

Book Review: A Vintage Affair

There is nothing like a long, lazy weekend and I took full advantage of it! I lounged about like a lizard, drinking in sunshine and reading a luscious novel about vintage fashion.

In the novel A Vintage Affair, Phoebe leaves her post as the expert in vintage fashion at Sotheby's Auction House to open her own London shop called Village Vintage. Phoebe's excitement at fulfilling her dream is tinged with sadness of the recent death of her best friend and the subsequent breakup of her engagement with her fiance. One day she meets an elderly woman named Therese with a dress collection to sell and stories to tell. Phoebe's feels a connection with Therese and Phoebe's life takes an unexpected twist.

"I went over to the shoe display and took out a pair of 1930s silk brocade slippers, embroidered with yellow roses. 'I look at these exquisite shoes, and I imagine the woman who owned them rising out of them and walking along, or dancing in them, or kissing someone.' I went over to a pink velvet pillbox hat on its stand. 'I look at a little hat like this,' I lifted up the veil, 'and I try to imagine the face beneath it. Because when you buy a piece of vintage clothing you're not just buying fabric and thread -- you're buying a piece of someone's past." (page 18)

I thoroughly enjoyed this book. I've read so many scholarly non-fiction books about fashion this year that it was a pleasure to relax into a story. I suppose one could call this book "chic-lit" but it also has an element of depth brought to the story by Therese and her experiences of the war. I also enjoyed the accuracy with which the elements of the fashion world were conveyed. Of course, as all such novels generally do, life for Phoebe is neatly wrapped up by the end of the book in a way that real life never is, but that was just what this weekend called for.

Title: A Vintage Affair
Author: Isabel Wolff
Publisher: Harper Collins Publishers Limited 2009
Category: Fiction
Price: $22.99 paperback
Number of Pages: 423